Northwest Regional Resource Conservation and Development, Susan J. Sutherland

Intrinsic Value

Figure 7.7: Money. Source: Todd Berget

It is easy to look around the Flathead Watershed and conclude that what we have is priceless. However, it is equally difficult to quantify the economic value associated with our natural environment. Yet, our resource managers struggle to incorporate that value into their decision-making and management processes. From a scientific perspective, there are a growing set of disciplines to evaluate the best use of an area as well as the potential impact of certain human activities. But how much are those uses worth and at what cost are those activities? For example, how much are our aquifers worth for providing the crystal clear, relatively pure water we enjoy? What would be the cost of losing that function?

Economists have developed several ways to look at the value of ecosystems. There are direct uses: the value we get from using part of the environment, such as water, timber, fish, pasture, and medicinal and subsistence plants used by tribes; indirect uses: the value produced by ecosystems (often referred to as ecosystem services) such as water storage provided by aquifers, filtration and nutrient cycling provided by wetlands, and soil stabilization provided by plants; and optional values such as agriculture and recreation. Other values that encompass culture, heritage, and aesthetics fall into various categories depending on the cultural and economic viewpoint. The methodologies for determining these values remain somewhat complex.

Economists have also been working on understanding and assigning costs associated with environmental effects. For example, there is a definable economic benefit to companies extracting resources at a headwaters location, but the economic impacts from the environmental destruction that would result downstream are more difficult to calculate. While several methodologies have been studied and proposed, resource managers today lack a widely accepted set of tools, processes and criteria for decision-making based on economic value. 

Community leaders and resource managers have become increasingly aware of the long-term impacts of human development activities on the health of the watershed. It is critical for these leaders to provide citizens with clear and consistent analysis of costs and benefits, and processes to evaluate activities as they plan for their future. It is equally important for citizens to make the effort to understand the long term environmental and economic impacts of the natural resource management decisions they support or oppose.  Clearly, communities and their land managers must work closely together to sustain and enhance the heart of our economic vitality.  Not only does it feel right, but it makes financial sense to invest in and protect our natural assets.

Research interviews conducted with residents of the watershed strongly favor protection of our natural resources as they see these resources as beneficial to their own quality of life and the economic health of their businesses. Research also shows that people living in the Flathead—as throughout the state of Montana—tend to participate to a great extent in their natural environment. More Montana residents hunt than in any other state except Alaska, almost six times the national average. Nearly triple the amount of residents here fish than anywhere else in the U.S. 

The Future
Planning for future growth is critical to maintaining our quality of life and protecting our natural resources.  Responsible growth can preserve the character of our diverse communities and maintain our assets for a sustainable future.  By investing in our physical and service infrastructures, fostering business growth, improving our educational systems, and maintaining the health of our environment, we strive to insure our ability to support growth as more people decide this is where they want to live and work. However, citizens—working with their elected officials—should consider the consequences of continued growth and explore potential limitations.

Our growth policies are typically directed at creating new jobs, improving business infrastructures, developing zoning strategies for responsible land development, and enticing new businesses and entrepreneurs to relocate to the Flathead Watershed.  New residents bring more jobs, income, tax revenue, and fresh ideas to our communities, building on those underlying infrastructure investments. As the economy of the Flathead Watershed continues to change, it will be important to focus our attention on promoting qualitative growth that continuously improves the well-being of our citizens while protecting the health of our parks, and our public and private lands.

Contemporary planning that encourages compatible land uses and that preserves the cultural and biological integrity of our communities will help to advance diverse and sustainable development. In the Flathead Watershed, the health of public land assets is inextricably linked to the economic health of our communities. Collaboration between land managers, community leaders, and citizens is fundamental to sustaining those assets and maintaining the quality of life and economic vitality we enjoy.

The following scrollable table contains information on a variety of community resources, chambers of commerce, development centers and economic development agencies. Click on a resource listed below and automatically scroll to its detailed information, or use the right scroll bar in the table.

Resources: Flathead County, Lake County, and Flathead Reservation Economic Development and Community Agencies and Job Training Centers
City of Kalispell Community Development Department
Address: 201 1st Ave. East, & P.O. Box 1997, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-7740
Service Area: Kalispell
Available Loan Programs: CDBG, RLF, TIF, & USDA Loans for Economic Development, Public Facilities, & Housing
Information: The City of Kalispell historically promotes public/private partnerships in economic development and affordable housing projects within its city limits. As a municipality, the city has access to various grant funding programs and program income funding. It also provides gap financing assistance through a revolving loan fund program. These funding sources are economic development tools that assist in business recruitment, retention, expansion, and creation, all of which result in job retention and job creation.
Flathead One Stop Workforce Center
Address: 15 Depot Park, Kalispell, MT 59901
Also located at: 427 1st Ave East, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-6200
Service Area: Flathead County
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: Flathead One Stop Workforce Center has compiled human resource information to assist you with your employment-related needs. We have information on hiring, applications, interviewing, reference checking, employee handbooks, employee evaluations, employee retention, personnel records, progressive discipline, harassment, wage and hour laws, employment laws and other human resource-related information as well as forms and checklists. We also have a resource library of books and videos on hiring, firing, and other resources.
Flathead Valley Community College
Address: 777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-756-3832
Service Area: Flathead and Lincoln Counties
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: Flathead Valley Community College’s Workforce Training Program offers regularly scheduled business and professional development workshops including management, customer service, business practices, communication skills and computers. In addition, FVCC provides organizations with quality, customized training, meeting facilitation, and human resource development needs assessments. Trainers have a unique blend of skills including front-line business experience and academic credentials. Workforce Training helps businesses identify their organization’s human resource development needs and works with them to determine solutions through training. Programs can be offered on campus or at the business site.

Flathead Valley Community College excels in workforce training by providing quality instructors to assure the highest professional level of practical, industrial and technical knowledge, communication skills and teaching abilities, as well as comprehensive instructional materials to reinforce the objectives and skills learned. Significant cost savings can be realized for the business’s training since it pays only for what is requested, i.e.: training and materials not travel expenses and overhead.
Salish Kootenai College
Address: U.S. Highway 93, Pablo, MT 59855
Phone: 406.275.4800 or 406.883.1752
Website: http://www.skc.edu/
Service Area: Nationwide
Available Loan Programs: N/A

Information:  Salish Kootenai College is a tribally controlled college chartered in 1977 by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The College is located in Pablo, Montana, in the heart of the Flathead Indian Reservation in the scenic Mission Valley of northwestern Montana. Since 1977, the College has graduated over 2,000 bachelors and associate degrees and certificates of completion. The College’s D’Arcy McNickle Library contains over 60,000 volumes and provides access to online reference databases. The Library also houses the Special Archives Collection for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The Salish Kootenai College curriculum introduces students to major areas of knowledge in humanities, fine arts, natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences and Native American studies. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking, cultural awareness, citizenship and communication skills. Consistent with SKC’s mission as a tribal college, general education instruction advances knowledge and awareness of Native American cultures, particularly the Salish, Pend d’Oreilles, and Kootenai tribal cultures, histories, and languages. All degree and certificate programs include general education requirements that help students develop cognitive and analytical skills that will help them become more effective life-long learners. Students acquire competencies applicable to the workplace as well as knowledge and skills that enable them to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing tribal and multicultural world.

Salish Kootenai College requires graduates from all degree programs to complete a service-learning course, based on the belief that service to the community is a major component of citizenship. Each department includes a service-learning component as part of the curriculum. The service-learning component requires students to participate in a minimum of 30 hours of service to the community outside of regularly scheduled class time, with objectives and service activities tied to content within the discipline.

Kicking Horse Job Corps Center
Address: 33091 Mollman Pass Trail, Ronan, MT 59864
Phone: 406.644.2217
Website: http://kickinghorse.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx
Service Area: Nationwide
Available Loan Programs: N/A

Information:  The Kicking Horse Job Corps Center is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training. The Job Corps program is authorized by Title I-C of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. At Kicking Horse Job Corps Center, we support the Job Corps program’s mission of teaching eligible young people the skills they need to become employable and independent and placing them in meaningful jobs or further education. Kicking Horse Job Corps Center is overseen by the Dallas Regional Office of Job Corps and is operated by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation.

One of our top goals at Kicking Horse Job Corps is to ensure that every qualified student obtains his or her GED/high school diploma prior to leaving the center. Students who don’t already have a high school diploma upon their arrival at Kicking Horse can enroll in our GED/high school program. Academic training includes basic reading and math and several programs to help our students achieve their full potential. The Kicking Horse Job Corps provides career technical training in several vocational trades. Students can enroll in programs such as Business Technology, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Dental Assistant, Diesel Mechanics, Facilities Maintenance, Forestry, Heavy Equipment Operations, Medical Assistant, and Nursing Assistant. Courses in independent living, employability skills, and social skills are offered in order to help students transition into the workplace.  Our programs are aligned with industry-based skill standards and nationally recognized certifications. Kicking Horse Job Corps partners with employers to offer our students internships and hands-on experience. We also work closely with Salish Kootenai College to allow our students the opportunity to earn Commercial Driver’s Licenses.

Lake County Community Development Corporation
Ronan Public Housing  
Address:  P.O. Box 128, 319 Main Street, Ronan, MT 59864
Phone: 406.676.5900
Website: www.lakecountycdc.org 
Service Area: Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, and Sanders Counties
Available Loan Programs: Local RLF and CDBG  
Information: The mission of Lake County Community Development Corporation is to enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of all residents of Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation. To accomplish this, LCCDC’s work includes business development and community infrastructure programs as well as supporting the growth of affordable housing programs in collaboration with Lake County Community Housing Organization and similar organizations in Sanders County. Its business development programs target locally owned new and expanding businesses as well as recruitment of environmentally suitable industries interested in relocating to the Lake County area. LCCDC also owns and operates a food processing and agri-business incubator as a major part of its Food, Ag and Cooperative Development Center. The organization administers a $3 million, community-based, revolving loan fund for Lake County which serves growing companies providing jobs for Lake County residents. As the designated Lake County BEAR (Business, Expansion and Recruitment) Team manager, and the Certified Regional Development Corporation for a 4-count region, it works extensively with other local development organizations in Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders Counties, as well as other regional partners to provide business counseling, loan packaging, government procurement assistance as well as access to capital for businesses of all sizes.
Lake County Job Service Workforce Center
Address: 417-B Main, PO Box 970, Polson, MT 59860
Phone: 406.883.7880
Service Area: Lake County
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: The Business Advocate provides assistance with personnel questions, employment information and referrals. They provide details and referral information on hiring, applications, interviewing, checking references, employee handbooks, employee evaluations, employee retention, personnel records, progressive discipline, sexual harassment, wage and hour laws, employment laws, and other personnel related information. They provide labor market information for businesses expanding or locating to the area.
Montana Manufacturing Extension Center
Address: 15 Depot Park, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-756-8329
Website: www.mtmanufacturingcenter.com
Service Area: Flathead, Sanders, Lake and Lincoln Counties
Information: The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is a statewide manufacturing outreach and assistance center staffed by full-time professionals with a home office in the College of Engineering at Montana State University, Bozeman, with field offices at the MSU TechLink Center and in Missoula, Kalispell, Billings, and Helena.  MMEC is part of a nationwide network, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and aspires to assist small and mid-size manufacturers in becoming more competitive and profitable. MilTech is a pilot program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. MilTech’s goal is to accelerate the transition of innovative technology to the U.S. warfighter. MilTech has offices in Bozeman, MT and Kalispell, MT. For MilTech to work with clients they must have an innovative technology that will help in the war effort and they must be able to prove that the Department of Defense in interested in buying the product. Typically, MilTech provides business and engineering assistance to companies that will improve the manufacturing process, reduce manufacturing costs, or make the company more sustainable.
Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center - (PTAC)
Address: 15 Depot Park, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-755-4221
Service Area: Flathead, Sanders, Lake and Lincoln Counties
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: The Kalispell Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) offers free assistance to help Montana businesses obtain city, county, state, or federal government contracts. The United States government spends over $300 billion a year on purchases of goods and services from small business. PTAC can help businesses with government registrations, finding bid opportunities, quote preparation, interpreting bid specifications, and help with contract specifications. A satellite PTAC Office serving primarily minority and disadvantaged business enterprises is located at Lake County Community Development Corp. in Ronan
Address: PO Box 128, 407 Main Street, Ronan, MT
Phone: 406.676.5901
Website: www.lakecountycdc.org
Service Area: Lake, Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders Counties
Montana West Economic Development & The Flathead County Economic Development Authority
Address: 314 Main Street, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-257-7711
E-mail: info@dobusinessinmontana.com
Service Area: Flathead County
Available Loan Programs: N/A

Information:  Montana West, a trusted industry advocate and resource in Northwest Montana

  • Provide finance solutions to assist business growth. Our multi-million dollar loan program assists business when private financing is not available or inadequate.
  • Flathead County Economic Development Authority-invest and partner with businesses for expansion and attraction opportunities.
  • Market and promote the Flathead as a place to do business.
  • Provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses. Access to resources for deal structuring, coordinate projects with local units of governments, feasibility analyses, and other project specific needs.
  • Network of referrals and connections-connect to talent and expertise, research, and beneficial alliances to help business prosper.
  • Knowledgeable grant development, submittal and administration.
  • The heart of business information for the area. Local demographics, area and industry information network.
  • Assist companies with site selection assistance and development.
  • Represent the Flathead as one product to stimulate economic growth.
Service Corps of Retired Executives - (SCORE)
Address: 2 Main Street, Suite 3 Kalispell, MT 59901
(First Interstate Bank Building)
Phone: 406-756-5271
Website: www.montanascore.org
E-mail: score@century.net
Service Area: Flathead, Sanders, Lake and Lincoln Counties
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: SCORE is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides free, confidential business advice to both existing and start-up businesses. SCORE is affiliated with the Small Business Administration and is dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth, and success of all businesses in Northwest Montana. The counselors have a vast wealth of knowledge based on a history of actual successful experience. In addition to counseling, SCORE provides educational seminars on all aspects of starting and maintaining a healthy business.
Small Business Development Center – (SBDC)
Address: 15 Depot Park, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-2802
Website: www.kalispellsmallbusiness.com
Service Area: Flathead, Lake and Lincoln Counties
Available Loan Programs: Community Express Loan Program
Information: The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is jointly sponsored by the Small Business Administration and the Montana Department of Commerce and hosted by the Kalispell Area Chamber of Commerce. The SBDC provides a variety of business assistance services to current and prospective small business owners. SBDC assistance is tailored to the local community and the needs of the clients. This business assistance is delivered through free, confidential one-on-one counseling, as well as through workshops and seminars.  A SBDC counselor acts as a liaison between lenders and potential borrowers, and through preparation of pro forma financial projections assists small businesses with business plan preparation, management, finance, marketing, production, organization, technical problems, and feasibility studies. The SBDC also acts as an information filter, directing clients through the business maze by maintaining partnerships among private business service organizations as well as local, state and federal agencies. SBDC focuses on the creation and maintenance of viable small businesses and the jobs these businesses provide in their local communities. Each year, the Montana SBDC network counsels more than 1400 entrepreneurs and existing business owners.
The SBDC also administers the Northwest Montana Business Expansion and Retention Program (BEAR). BEAR is a cooperative partnership of local economic, community and workforce development organizations. Our common purpose is to build local companies while enhancing our business climate. Through partnerships with business providers BEAR is your direct connection to:
Chambers of Commerce
Bigfork Chamber of Commerce
Address: Old Towne Center • PO Box 237 • Bigfork, Montana, 59911
Phone: 406.837.5888
Website: http://www.bigfork.org
Service Area: Bigfork
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: The Bigfork Chamber of Commerce provides job listings and participates in the Bigfork High School Student Job Referral Program to connect potential employers with potential High School employees. The Chamber’s involvement is to provide a list of available job descriptions and to promote student monitoring of available jobs with guidance from Public School administrators. We provide a searchable membership directory listed alphabetically and by business category, a calendar of local events, recreational and entertainment opportunities and information, real estate connections, a profile and history of Bigfork, and relocation information. The town of Bigfork is a picturesque and charming place. World class art galleries, fine restaurants, a 27-hole golf course, live theatre and unique shops can all be found within a quaint Western setting. Located nearby, Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall and the Swan Wilderness areas are full of wildlife and offer endless recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Chosen as “One of the 50 Great Towns of the West” and designated as “One of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of the Nation,” Bigfork offers you and your family a part of the West that you will never forget.
Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce
Address: PO Box 312, Columbia Falls, Montana 59912
Phone: 406.892.2072
Website: http://www.columbiafallschamber.org
Service Area: Columbia Falls
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: The mission of the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce is to promote the prosperity of its members and the civic, commercial, industrial and agricultural interests of the community in a way which maintains a small town, family oriented character. Columbia Falls is home to a variety of industrial businesses, including Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, Plum Creek Timber Company and Stoltze Land & Lumber. In addition, our hometown offers growing antique shopping opportunities as well as plenty of food and fun. Our residents pride themselves on maintaining the “small town” family-oriented character, which is the backbone of this community. The chamber provides information for people interested in relocating to Columbia Falls, as well as information on dining, shopping, events, area attractions, and planning a visit to the area.
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce  
Address: 15 Depot Park, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406.758.2800
Website: http://www.kalispellchamber.com
Service Area: Kalispell
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information:  Since 1904, the Kalispell Area Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead to strengthen our community and the business climate in order to make the Flathead an ideal location to live and work. The Chamber is the largest, most influential business organization in the Flathead Valley. The Chamber consists of 700 businesses and organizations which employ over half of the private workforce in Flathead County, Montana.  The Chamber is a member driven organization of business leaders, coming together to deliver solutions and support to meet the needs of the businesses in the Flathead. Owning, managing, not to mention growing a business comes with challenging responsibilities. The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce offers a wealth of resources and support to assist members with business needs. Through networking and promotional opportunities, community involvement, legislative advocacy, informational access, numerous discounts and heightened credibility, Chamber members shape the community and grow their business.
Lakeside and Somers Chamber of Commerce  
Address: P.O. Box 177, Lakeside, MT 59922
Phone: 406.844.3715
Website: http://www.lakesidesomers.org
Service Area: Lakeside and Somers
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information:  The Lakeside and Somers Chamber provides an on-line member directory, information about local services, and relocation information for people interested in living and working in the Lakeside and Somers area..
Polson Chamber of Commerce  
Address: 418 Main Street, Polson, MT 59860
Phone: 406.883.5969
Website: http://www.polsonchamber.org
Service Area: Polson
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information:  The mission of the Polson Chamber is to serve, support and strengthen our members by enhancing the business climate, promoting our area, and fostering a sense of community. The Polson Chamber maintains an on-line business directory and provides visitor information as well as relocation information for people interested in living and working in Polson. They offer links to community minded organizations that support their citizens and visitors, and provide a community events calendar.
Ronan Chamber of Commerce  
Address: PO Box 254, Ronan, Montana 59864
Phone: 406.676.8300
Website: http://www.ronanchamber.org
Service Area: Ronan
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information:  The Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce exists for the general betterment of the Ronan area business community.  It strives to strengthen, enhance, and serve the community and its citizens by providing service, forums for communication, and acting as a clearinghouse for information.  The Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce is a group of interested businesses and citizens working together in service to our community.  We provide for the exchange of information and communication, we provide service activities for retail, wholesale, manufacturing and service businesses, we provide informal and formal functions for area youth, schools, agricultural trades and members, and we respond to needs that develop in the community.  As a business organization, the Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce endorses full, free, and fair competition.
Whitefish Chamber of Commerce  
Address: 520 East Second Street, Whitefish, MT 59937
Phone: 406.862.3501
Website: http://www.whitefishchamber.org
Service Area: Whitefish
Available Loan Programs: N/A
Information: The Whitefish Chamber of Commerce is here to serve you! We promote our members through our visitor center referrals, our web site, and our monthly newsletter. We create monthly networking opportunities for you to meet your future customers or business connections. We serve as an information bank, supplying you with valuable community information. We promote community events to establish a positive image of our area as a great place to work, live and do business. The Whitefish Chamber’s mission is to “provide leadership to promote the vitality of Whitefish through collaboration and communication.” Since 1947, the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce has helped businesses like yours grow and prosper. We offer businesses a wide range of opportunities to promote business. Programs offered throughout the year will give you a chance to network your business, make new contacts and make a difference in the community. Chamber membership can keep you informed about community issues that are especially helpful if you conduct business in this area. The Whitefish Chamber of Commerce has many benefits that we hope complement your business needs. We offer referrals, strong web presence, annual chamber business directory, member-to-member discount program card, group health plan, job postings, first alert e-mails, city and county representation, and networking opportunities.

For more information, send email to info@flatheadwatershed.org or info@flatheadcore.org.
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